Spielberg, Austria — Nico Rosberg from Mercedes increased his points lead in the world championship standings by winning Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, marking the first time Formula One has competed in this European country in 11 years.
Rosberg, who started third, grabbed the lead for the first on lap 27 when he overtook Force India’s Sergio Perez, who was the only driver that had yet to make his initial pit stop at that time. Rosberg took command from there, giving up the top spot just briefly when he pitted for the second and final time on lap 41.
In the closing laps, Lewis Hamilton attempted to catch Rosberg for the lead, trailing his Mercedes teammate by less than a second, but Rosberg went on to beat Hamilton at the finish line by 1.9 seconds for his third win of the season and the sixth of his F1 career.
“It wasn’t the easiest of races, trying to manage certain things with the car, but at the end, I had a very, very fast car again, so it was fantastic to win today,” Rosberg said. “It’s also great to get a 1-2 [for Mercedes] here in Austria. It’s been great to come back to Austria.”
Rosberg now holds a 29-point lead over Hamilton — the largest margin in the F1 championship standings this season. The 28-year-old German has finished no worse than second in the first eight grand prix in 2014.
Rosberg also surpassed his father, Keke Rosberg, on F1’s all-time wins list. Keke Rosberg, the 1982 world champion, won five grand prix during his nine- year career in the sport.
It was the sixth 1-2 finish for Mercedes this season as well. Mercedes has accumulated 301 points in the constructors’ title standings, which is 158 points more than its closest competitor, Red Bull Racing, which has won the last four constructors’ championships.
Hamilton started ninth in this race after he had failed to set a lap time in the final round of qualifying (Q3) on Saturday. The time on his first lap in Q3 was disallowed after he ran wide. He spun out on his second attempt.
On the opening lap of the race, Hamilton moved up five positions in the field to fourth. He was running right behind Rosberg after the completion of the first lap.
“I knew I had to pull something special out of the bag to achieve what I wanted,” Hamilton said. “I was really happy with the start, and after that, it was a really good, fun race.”
Valtteri Bottas from Williams made his first podium appearance in F1 with a third-place finish, while his teammate, Felipe Massa, finished fourth. Massa and Bottas had qualified 1-2 for the Austrian GP to give Williams its first front row sweep since 2003.
“The race was exactly what we needed at this point, clean, nice, everything went well,” Bottas said. “The car was good for podium this time, and I’m so happy.”
Red Bull driver and four-time defending F1 champion Sebastian Vettel retired on lap 36. Vettel lost power and slowed on the track during the second lap. He was able to restart his car but had fallen one lap behind. His team decided to retire just past the halfway point.
“I had a problem at the beginning of the race and then everything was back to normal, but there was no point running around with a lap down,” Vettel said.
Fernando Alonso from Ferrari placed fifth, while Perez ended up in sixth. Perez had to start from 15th due to a five-spot grid penalty that he received for causing a collision with Massa during the final lap in the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Vettel’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, finished eighth after winning his maiden F1 grand prix in Canada.
Ricciardo and Vettel had high hopes for this weekend, as the Austrian GP was the home race for Red Bull.
Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz, who founded the Red Bull Energy Drink company in the mid-1980s, owns both the team and this 2.688-mile (4.326- kilometer), 9-turn racing circuit, The Red Bull Ring, in Spielberg.
It was the 27th time F1 has competed in Austria but the first since 2003 when Michael Schumacher scored the victory. The inaugural F1-sanctioned Austrian GP took place at Zeltweg Airfield in 1964. The race was then contested on the Osterreichring from 1970-87 and the A1-Ring from 1997-03.